It's Only Rock'n Roll
We had been anxiously reading all the reviews leading up to tonite as the Stones came closer and closer to us. No fireworks, glittery tinsel, or blowup dolls etc. Could the band and the show really do it to us the same as many times before, on basically just the music alone? I had seen them in Quebec and Montreal last year, so I knew generally what to expect from a smaller indoor venue, but even then they had all of the glittery tinsel dropping from the ceiling during the Brown Sugar encore. What would tonite really be like?
The Tampa Ice Palace is very new and quite upscale and bold in its appearance. I have to tell you that this arena is decidedly different than the site of my first Stones show almost 24 years ago. My very first show was in Toronto's venerable, but now retired Maple Leaf Gardens on 17 June 1975, when I sat six rows behind the stage for $10 (!). Mick stood right in front of us in a red and white costume with a hat and smiled, holding some incense in his hand while the "Fanfare for a Common Man" intro played. (I have the pictures to prove it!) For tonite's show, our seats were only 10 rows behind the stage, and just as all the other reviewers have asked before tonite, I would like to know why are people so loathe to take a $90 seat behind the stage and instead pay $150 to sit up to 40-50 rows out in the front? I can't figure that one out.
After the warmup band The Flys, the stage was cleared off, while the suspense slowly built. Finally, the music and the video intro began at 9:25, and then Keith appeared. The opening riff and the chords to Jumping Jack Flash grabbed both my breastbone and my eardrums simultaneously, and quicker than you could say "Wow" the entire band were all there in front of us. Just as all the times before, you think to yourself how truly amazing it is that you are seeings the Stones live, just for you and a couple thousand other freaks!
The opening five songs are undoubtedly the quickest, hardest hitting musical salvo I have ever witnessed, from this or any other band in the world. What phenomenal energy! Then, for the very first time, I heard Mick announce they were going to slow things down and play Moonlight Mile. Having been in love with the Sticky Fingers album in grade 12, I was extremely pleased to hear it. What a groove that it made as Mick strummed the acoustic while he wore a linen jacket! This was followed by Saint of Me, which for me is one of the highlights of Bridges to Babylon. The Tampa crowd even did a decent job with the "oh nos" at the end of the song.
I had forgotten somehow that Some Girls was being featured on this tour. Mick donned the No Security striped Stratocaster and he said quickly "here's Some Girls." Yes! It was a rowdy, electric charge down to Zuma Beach and half of what I owe - how interesting that he's singing those lines this year. But, the song simply cooks and for me, it's one of the killers of this year's tour.
My son was extremely pleased to then hear Paint It Black which he thinks is one of the highlights of the Stones catalog. The lighting was fantastic, the crescendo at the end was great and we all smiled at the conclusion
After the intros, which certainly were won hands down by Charlie (no surprise!), it was Keith's turn. Stripped down to a black sleeveless t-shirt, he strolled to the front of the stage and pointed out at the crowd as his guitar was brought out to him. However, I was personally disappointed to hear that he was going to sing Thief In the Night - not because I don't like the song, because I do a lot, but because I desperately wanted to see my first live hearing of You've Got the Silver. Oh well, maybe at Charlotte in two weeks! Please Keith! Before They Make Me Run was very good, with its raggedness and Ronnie's solid backing. Even though a lot of fans still insist on renewing drinks during this phase of the show, the real fans appreciate what we are seeing.
Out of Control was also wonderful tonite, as it's longer live than it is on the live album version, which allows Keith to circle behind the stage and grind out the groove, while Mick maniacally blows his heart out into the harp. Ronnie keeps the waw-waw pedal going strong, and everything blends beautifully together.
The B-stage is the one aspect of a concert difficult to fully appreciate when you sit behind the main stage. However, Route 66, When The Whip Comes Down, and the quintessential Stones piece, Midnight Rambler, are difficult not to enjoy, no matter how far you sit from the stage. Rambler is exquisite on this tour, and is probably the single highlight for me. What a performance!
The final five songs back on the main stage build and build to the end until you have nothing left to give, just like the band. I was also surprised to see long streamers of shiny glitter falling after Brown Sugar. I thought there wasn't any this tour. Oh well, it wouldn't have really been missed, as the music and the showmanship were special and all we really needed to have.
On this night, we thought that Mick had the most energy and that Keith and Ronnie were hanging back a little bit. However, after nearly 18 months off and on the road, what's wrong with a little pacing? I would do the same if it were my chance. All that aside, this is a band that doesn't need to make any excuses and to their credit, they don't offer any. The Rolling Stones are the best there ever has been in the rock world and we should simply be happy they are still doing it for us. Thanks guys! See you in Charlotte.
Start Time 9:25 End Time 11:25
The set list:
Bill and I drove 500 miles from Atlanta for this show. Tampa was nice, we had the top down on the car enjoying the local radio station playing non-stop Stones. Before the show we met up with all the Glimmers over at HaTTricks. They were supplying lots of good Stones music for the bar, boots and rare outtakes. With us tonight is Road Trip Charlie and his friends Mike and Randy. Amongst us we count over forty Stones shows collectively.
After hearing about the arena shows firsthand and even seeing pictures I was still not prepared for what awaited inside the Tampa Bay Ice Palace. I was pleasantly surprised. The stage is completely stripped down, no curtains, scaffolding, or blow up dolls. So extremely different from any other Stones show I had seen.
Showtime....... The video plays on the big screens showing the four bandmates emerging from deep inside a futuristic arena. Just under the back of the stage I see a few shadows approaching. As he approaches center stage, Keith riffs out the opening of Jumping Jack Flash as the arena erupts in a frenzy. The rest of the band magically appears, Ronnie in black leather and Keith simply wearing black pants and a purple shirt. Jagger dressed in black pants, red T-shirt under a pink shirt and black vest with the usual sunglasses runs to the center mic. His energy level is unbelievable. He really rips the show wide open with this number. There is no possible way a 55 year old man can perform like this! How does he continue to be so "Mick" after all these years?
Quickly they move on to Live With Me. Mick introduces Respectable and they continue this hurried pace. You guys gotta be somewhere? Why the rush? You Got Me Rocking is followed by Honky Tonk Women. This is where I begin to realize Jagger is stealing the show. Charlie is working hard but Keith and Ronnie are practically a no-show! Mick continues to prance across every inch of the stage and tease every captivated person in this audience. Tampa remains on their feet the entire show.
The next song Moonlight Mile was a nice treat. Jagger donned a moonlight white jacket for this, it wasn't much his style. By this time Ronnie has taken off a few layers and is down to a purple T-shirt. Saint of Me was next. I thought this went over real well - Tampa was on queue, "Yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah." Some Girls was great! Never thought I would see this one live. The sound in the arena is different than the stadiums. I really appreciate the not-so-polished sound we are getting here. Jaggers vocals could have been a bit louder in the mix though. Who could tell what he really says in Some Girls?
Paint it Black continues the frantic pace of getting through the set list. Intros and the Keith set. MOST DISAPPOINTING event of the night: Keith does Thief In the Night instead of the usual You Got the Silver. Further evidence he was a no-show tonight. Next is Before They Make Me Run. Jagger, now wearing a purple shirt (I am sensing there is a theme here - purple) kicks things up again with Out of Control. Again his energy level is off the meter. Great performance here.
The band now ventures out to the B stage. Now this is intimate. Hey, why not do the whole show here? The crowd pushes closer and closer. Route 66 takes everyone back a few years, a few decades really! When the Whip Comes Down kicks ass! Jagger is playing a lot of guitar this show. He is playing for all he is worth on this one.
Highlight of the show: Midnight Rambler here on the B stage. This is the show stopper. The harp, the guitar, the energy. They really did this one right by choosing to do it out here on the B. This is as close as you can come to defining the Rolling Stones. This is what we came to see. Jagger is the last to return to the main stage as the "Hot Rocks" closing kicks off. Tumbling Dice, It's Only Rock-n-Roll, Start Me Up, and Brown Sugar. Dice and Sugar are shorter than previous tours. During Sugar thousands of streamers were dropped from the ceiling - nice effect.
Back for one encore. The stage is blue and then red........ The haunting drum beat. Sympathy for the Devil is the closer here....... Keith's solo is shortened but Mick continues to carry the crowd through this. After one hour and forty-five minutes he is still working all corners of the stage. 55 years old? Unbelievable - you absolutely have to see it to believe it. All in all it was another great Stones trip, and I am so glad we didn't have to see Miss You again! Flashing back to '78 and the last Stones arena tour we got four songs off of Some Girls. That works! Next stop: Philadelphia!!
After being upgraded from a $90 to a $300 seat by the confused ushers in Toronto last week, I pulled off the same feat last night in Tampa. I bought a lousy ticket for $60 from a scalper half an hour before the show, and sneaked my way in to an empty seat in a fantastic $150 section, halfway between the big and small stage.
Observation number one: Tampa fans are most definitely louder than Toronto`s. Observation two: Tampa is a lot more hip than Toronto, because it sells beer throughout the show.
The show opens with a video of the band walking slowly and very cool towards the stage, while being cheered by all of us. Then it's Keith and Jumping Jack Flash. It's hard to describe the level of energy, let`s just say that everyone was standing up and singing along. Live With Me gives us a chance to see who the connaisseurs are, and who's there because of the hype. The party-animal yahoo next to me actualy thought they were doing Undercover! I loved it though, singing along all the way to the end.
When I heard the opening bars of Moonlight Miles, I was of course delighted. But having heard the song last week in Toronto, I was acutually hoping for Memory Motel. Mick and the gang, if you`re reading, please play it in Hartford (and dedicate it to my friend Donna of Saratoga)
A hot show, a very appreicative crowd, and I can honestly say at this point is that No Security is a better tour than Bridges. The absence of stage gimmicks has a lot to do with it. And my bias isn`t related to the Stadium vs. arenas argument, since I saw B2B in Montreal and Quebec City.
It just seems like there`s more sincerity, less glitter. More music more Stones. Who can argue with that?
Highlights were Paint It Black (better than 1989), Moonlight Mile (even though much of the audience was a bit lost), Some Girls and Midnight Rambler. I thought Respectable and Whip rocked very well, too. The only disappointment was that Keith did not play You Got The Silver... it's little things like that that drive ya insane... I love Thief In The Night (and if I hadn't heard it already i might've been more content) but the song to play was Silver unless he's decided to drop it from the rest of the tour.
Also, Out of Control didn't work as well for me as it did at the Bridges shows. Two people I went with had not seen the Stones earlier and thought the show was great... I thought it was very good but not quite great (but then I am comparing it to Houston #2 which was near perfect). *sigh* Like the IORR news item said, it's all a state of mind and if only Keith had played Silver... : )
I think everything about the concert in Tampa is said in the other reviews so I only will say a few words about the differences to the European concerts. The concerts are so very different I think nobody who never saw an US concert and an EU concert can imagine. The atmosphere in Europe is very different to the atmosphere in the USA. If you ever have the chance to hear the bootleg of , for example the Prague concert, you will hear the crowd singing after Saint of me so the Stones started to play again (Caution bootlegs are illegal). The crowd stoped to sing when the Stones startet the next song. And there are much more examples.
But we liked the US concerts and all people who where around us. And to all Americans: if you ever got the chance to see the Stones in Europe come we would be Happy to see you here. But come early there are no numbered places in front of the stage but so everybody got the same chance of first row places for the same money.
P.S. : Please don't leave the arena for a new beer when Keith is singing. Its an absolut highlight of the show.
Thanks to Olaf Reuthebuch, Donna Alsbury and each and every one of you for supplying links to online newspapers, and reviews, of course!
Read all about the "No Security" and "Bridges To Babylon" tours of 1999 in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazines. New issue IORR 35 out Jan 20, 1999, and the complete No Security guide in IORR 36 is out April 23, 1999.
It's Only Rock'n Roll 1999 -
© The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe